Getting comfy with the IT side

Managed access control is riding high on a wave of momentum.

It fits with so many users and their goals to manage their physical and logical security. As many move to access control, users will look for easier ways to set privileges, create schedules and control their solution in a streamlined method over a Web browser and even the clouds. It's also flexible; end-users can manage parts, outsource some or contract out the entire solution.

For the systems integrator, this represents the continued shift from an era where equipment could be used to garner additional revenue to the current-day scenario, where equipment sales yield little if any profit. It also represents the move of the security industry from an installation-revenue-monitoring only model to one where new services-bundled, hosted, Web-based and in public and private clouds-continue to dominate and add dollars to the coffers.

Security integrators and alarm dealers have been doing managed services since the beginning of time almost-think opening and closing reports and supervisory signaling and key and lock management. But now, thanks to the Internet and network-based systems, managed services includes more than security-it represents a total solution-one in which the systems integrator is in the driver's seat.

Kastle Systems: premier innovator of managed access

It's interesting for a company such as Kastle Systems International, Arlington, Va., to look at all the hub-bub over managed services, because in fact, the company offered outsourced security and ongoing system management to its commercial office customers when it first opened its doors in 1972. They've focused on remote building management for decades, only now, it involves the Internet and hosting and clouds. To run an effective security system, the functions of ongoing programming, operations, administration, monitoring and changes/upgrades must be performed consistently and correctly, according to Brian Eckert, executive vice president and chief of marketing, Kastle Systems.

"We started managed access services decades ago," said Eckert. "One of the evolutions, over the years and now, is where the customer desires to have the capability at their fingertips through the Web. Customers can manage parts themselves or outsource all the management to Kastle Systems. We have created software tools for them to make it convenient to access the service through a browser."

Eckert said Kastle systems is seeing a significant trend to cloud computing, because the total cost of ownership is better for the customer." Commenting on how managed access control has changed over the years with technological advancements, Eckert added the integration of systems has become easier with software and Web-based solutions.

"We're finding rapid adoption over the last year," he said. "It's such a compelling story; cost savings and lower total cost of ownership." Kastle also offers managed video services to its customers.

He sees the future as a model where information from multiple devices is correlated and causes the provider of service to have a better sense of situations relative to the environment. "It's a fusion of information," Eckert added.

Some of the language and terms in managed access control are coming from the IT side of the business, such as the process of embedding. Embedding software capabilities into hardware and controllers in essence enables greater functionality and interoperability.

Hardware gets the software 'touch'

The process of embedding is becoming more familiar to the systems integrator because of the capabilities. Keri Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif., recently announced it was embedding Mercury Security firmware in its NXT controllers as an option to provide enhanced access control solutions. This type of alliance gives Keri's product line a broader feature-set that adds value for its typical customer base and fits high-end and enterprise customers as well as specialty applications that require sophisticated custom input and output linking and other unique requirements, according to Ken Geiszler, chief executive officer of Keri Systems. "It also allows Keri Systems, through the partnership, to bring solutions to their customers much sooner." He added that embedding is the process of putting software application/codes on hardware devices, where the controllers begin to achieve intelligence. "Once intelligence is on the controller itself it opens possibilities, sharing of information and more highly intelligent modules."

Geiszler said there are two basic methods of embedding, one using client server architecture (highly secure) and which Keri Systems favors and the other is browser-based where you embed the application within the controller and access it through a browser, which yields a secure path after connection.

"As the industry becomes more IT-centric, the more we will hear about processes such as embedding," said Dr. Yaron Caspi, PhD and vice president of Research and Development and co-founder of BriefCam Inc., Neve Ilan, Israel.

"The last thing the end-user wants is another separate application," said Caspi of the advantages of embedding. "Embedding is basically a collaboration of technology."

For the end-user it means they have a single system instead of multiple systems if controls are embedded into hardware, Caspi added. "Multi applications are a bottleneck for the end-user," Caspi continued. "Embedding allows the system to work as one complete solution and the user has a single and unified product."


Honeywell's NetAXS-123 access control system is based on the fundamental components outlined in the accompanying story on page 42. The one-, two- or three-door system has a Web-based design and provides small commercial customers with traditional access control benefits while simplifying installation procedures, maintenance and operations.

For dealers, the system provides a pathway to the smaller-sized customer while also providing a migration path to more feature-rich access control, thanks to its scalability-further enabling dealers to upsell and add revenue with services.

Tennessee-based dealer and integrator Guardian Systems' experience with NetAXS-123 demonstrates the potential for approaching smaller-sized customers with this kind of technology. Guardian Systems recently installed NetAXS-123 at a high-end bolt manufacturing facility. The manufacturer sought to secure just four of its 16 total doors, so the scalability made it a good fit, according to Jason Tolleson, senior Commerical Sales, Guardian Systems.

"For this particular customer, the scalability of the technology was extremely important," Tolleson said. "The facility wanted technology to match their needs now, while also providing the option to easily grow and add on as necessary."

While other companies were bidding eight-door systems, Guardian emerged as the ideal dealer for the customer because it was able to offer a system that would provide the amount of security the customer sought, without overselling. The customer also wanted a two-reader system, so the second-reader capabilities of NetAXS-123 provided other cost-efficiencies.

"An eight-door system would have been double the cost on the control side alone, so we were able to come in thousands under the competition," Tolleson said. "In the end, we won the job based on both price and capabilities."